Victor George Duke


Victor’s grandfather, Richard Duke, was born in 1831 in Bosham in West Sussex. He worked as a farm labourer in that area, living with his brothers, his mother having died in 1837 and his father in 1850. By 1861, at the age of 30 years, Richard had moved to Brighton and was working as a labourer and living in lodgings in Blackman Street.

By 1871, Richard had moved to the Hanover area of Brighton and was lodging in a three bed roomed terraced house in Holland Street with James Hall, his wife and two daughters. Also lodging there was Celia Martin and her three sons, James who was 7 years, Charles who was 3 years and George who was 2 months (Victor’s father).

Both James Hall and Richard Duke were working as general labourers.

Richard and Celia Martin married at St Peter’s Church, Brighton on 18/03/1877. Their daughter Emma was christened at St Peter’s on 4/10/77 but died early in 1878.

By 1881 the family had moved to Whichelo Place and shared a house with William Boxall, a labourer and his sister-in-law, a laundry worker.  Richard was working as a ‘Corporation’ labourer, his son Charles as a paper hanger’s assistant. George was at school and James was not listed.

George married Ann Burchett in 1889, who was three years his senior. At the time of the 1881 Census the Burchett Family had lived at 17 Claremont Row; Ann worked as a general servant and her father Charles was recorded as being a pauper. He was recorded on the 1861 Census as being a labourer.

The 1891 Census showed George, Ann and their son John, born in 1890, to be living with George’s parents at 33 Holland Street. George’s occupation was ‘Waterworks turncock’.(sic)

By 1901 they had moved back to Whichelo Place, number 25, and had four more sons. Victor was born in 1897. George’s occupation was ‘builder’s foreman’. (Richard and Celia lived at 21 Whichelo Place).

By 1911 George and Ann had eight children, seven boys and one girl, and the family had moved to a five roomed house, number 2 Cromwell Street, just off Elm Grove. Richard and Celia lived next door at number 4. They also had five rooms.

Victor at 14years of age was recorded as ‘Assisting in business’, presumably working for his father who was by then a coal dealer. His oldest brother John was working for the post office; William, born in 1892, was in the Navy; Alfred, born in 1895, was a page. Frank, born in 1899, Albert, born in 1902, and Arthur, born in 1903, were all at school and Mable, aged 4 year, was at home.

Throughout the war years Victor’s brother William served in the Navy on ships including Victory 1 and Excellent; he was paid a war gratuity. He was invalided out of the Navy in 1925 having completed sixteen years service.

Victor’s brother Frank, during the war, was Private 31065, 6th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderer’s (formally 3085 Sussex Yeomanry). He was taken prisoner and died in captivity of pneumonia on 05/11/1918, aged 19 years. He is buried in Niederwehren Cemetery, Cassel, Germany. He is listed on St Lukes Parish Church Memorial. His war gratuity was sent to his father in May 1919.



There appears to be little surviving information about Victor’s military career. He enlisted with the Royal Sussex Regiment, 13th Battalion, at Hastings. His regimental number is SD/2667, suggesting that he was one of ‘Lowthers Lambs’. He was killed in action on June 30th 1916, the day the Battle of Boar’s Head was fought. He is buried in Saint Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Richebourg-I’Avoue. Grave reference 111 Q.5.

Private Victor Duke was awarded posthumously the British Medal and Victory Medal.

His effects, a total of £10 9s was sent to his mother in June 1919.

He is listed on St Lukes Parish Church Memorial and in St Peter’s Memorial Book, as is his brother Frank.



George died on November 3rd 1931; probate was granted to his daughter Mable. Ann also died in 1931.

Mable kept house for her brothers Alfred and Arthur who both worked in the building trade; they lived at 2 Cromwell Street until their deaths. Mable died in 1968, Alfred in 1992 and Arthur in 1991.

William married Florence Parker in 1918.  He worked as a foreman at the Public Library Museum and Art gallery. He died in 1978.

Albert who had married Annie Biggs in 1924,  lived at 4 Cromwell Street at least until 1939;  they both worked at a laundry,  he as a driver and she as a shop  assistant.

John married Ruth Long in 1911 they had five children and lived in Southwick. John continued to work for the Post office as a telephone and telegraph fitter. He died in 1980.


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